I am puzzled by the overlap between Programmers SE and Stack Overflow. I suppose the topic has already undergone a lengthy, heated debate, but I can't resist (re-?)discussing the following specific bullets from the FAQs.

From the FAQ at Programmers:

This can include topics such as: (snip)

  • Practical algorithms and data structures

From the FAQ at Stack Overflow:

...but if your question generally covers... (snip)

  • A software algorithm

So where do I ask about, say, bubble-sort?

  • 5
    Also, SO: software tools commonly used by programmers P.SE: Developer tools and techniques
    – moinudin
    Dec 30, 2010 at 2:11
  • 1
    I had a question that was supposedly migrated to "programmers" today, but it isn't even a programming question - I was looking for information about the movie "Sorting out Sorting". It's not clear to me how that's a question about sorting - while it's a matter that's "unique to the programming profession" (from SO's FAQ), it's not a question about programming itself - it's a question about a movie about programming. Add to that the fact that the "migrated" link leads to a 404 on programmers.sE, and I'm left very confused as to what's going on.
    – TML
    Dec 30, 2010 at 2:42
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    I always thought that "StackOverflow" was for questions about programming tasks and "Programmers" was more for questions about the developer as a person. For example: What tool you use/prefer for your line of work? (PE) How to use this tool for this task? (SO). Asking for how to implement some algorithm should be SO field. I don't understand the meaning of "Practical algorithms and data structures", and I even less understand how this is PE field.
    – user150068
    Dec 30, 2010 at 18:05
  • The more I think about this, the more I end up concluding that I don't see a real need for Programmers SE (or Comp Sci SE, for that matter). The whole thing reeks with SE inflation, generating more specific sites than is useful/appropriate IMHO.
    – Håvard S
    Dec 30, 2010 at 22:55
  • I see a field for Comp Sci SE: general programing concepts (all the lamba-calculus/functional "novelty", i.e.) and algorithm study (complexity comparison, i.e.).
    – user150068
    Dec 30, 2010 at 23:37
  • possible duplicate of Choosing between Stack Overflow and Programmers Stack Exchange
    – ChrisF Mod
    Mar 23, 2012 at 11:02

2 Answers 2


If the solution to your problem is likely a big picture / white board solution involving no or minimal code, it is a good fit for programmers.

If the solution to your problem involves specific code it is probably a good fit for Stack Overflow.


Which sorting algorithm is best for <specific problem I am having>?

belongs on Programmers

How would I implement bubble sort in 8086 assembly?

belongs on Stack Overflow

  • 1
    Where would you put a question on the computational complexity of bubblesort? No code, but hardly subjective...
    – Shog9
    Dec 30, 2010 at 2:12
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    I am pretty sure I would consider your first variant to be perfectly appropriate on SO, and answer away happily without migration to Programmers SE crossing my mind.
    – Håvard S
    Dec 30, 2010 at 2:13
  • 3
    @shog imho ... computational complexity belongs on SO or even the Comp Sci SE ...
    – waffles
    Dec 30, 2010 at 2:20
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    If SO turns into please-send-me-the-codez it would be a real shame.
    – tvanfosson
    Dec 30, 2010 at 13:35
  • +1 for "Comp Sci SE" reference.
    – user150068
    Dec 30, 2010 at 17:48

I agree that the distinction between these two sites is currently very blurred. For example, three of my top ten tags on SO are git, svn, and version-control. Since none of these questions deal with actual source code, do they all now belong on P.SE, because of

  • Developer tools and techniques

or should they stay on SO because of

  • software tools commonly used by programmers


From the start of Programmers.SE, I was always under the impression that it was for questions about the craft of programming. However, my primary site of focus is SO, so I haven't really been keeping up on P.SE to see how it's changed. But it seems to have changed a lot from what I first learned, by the time it now has gone "public". When did "practical algorithms and data structures" become off topic for SO?

Here's how I would modify the P.SE topic list:

  • Software engineering
  • Developer testing
  • Developer tools and techniques
  • Practical algorithms and data structures
  • Design patterns
  • Architecture
  • Development methodologies
  • Quality assurance
  • Learning resources and techniques
  • Software law
  • Programming puzzles
  • Freelancing and business concerns
  • 1
    "When did "practical algorithms and data structures" become off topic for SO?" It isn't, unless the question has zero code. If it's a question with code about data structures, it belongs on SO. Dec 30, 2010 at 23:46
  • I agree with the tools part wholeheartedly, though -- there's no practical way to involve code in developer tools, so I removed that one. I also added the word "concepts" to algorithms and data structures to make it more clear on the whiteboard vs code paradigm. Dec 31, 2010 at 1:44

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